Tumbling dice

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Today it was once again time to put the summer wheels on my 9000 and change the oil; I decided it was time to visit my local dealer. This visit was long overdue– I had not seen the guys for at least a week, maybe even two.

I usually try to catch a few words with one of their veteran sales persons there. Anders has held the fort since the mid-90s. He was head hunted by the local Opel dealer as they managed to snap up the Saab franchise following GM’s take-over of Saab. They needed someone on their team with proper Saab knowledge and roots. Who better than a born and raised second generation Saab salesman?

Anders has sold six new 9-5s in our borough. Two linears, two vectors and two aeros– one of these to me. Today he was putting together an offer for a 9-5 SportCombi. The customer in question wants the works: 2.8T, navigation, metallic, etc. “Adaptive cruise control?” I asked.

“Yes, of course” Anders replied. I was impressed. A week ago I was completely unaware that adaptive cruise control would finally feature on the 2012 9-5s, and now someone was already requesting it.

A year ago, in June, Anders and I picked features for for my fjord blue 9-5. Things were very different back then. Saab’s website was incomplete and one of the snags that caught me was the auto-tiltdown action on the side mirrors. You need memory seats for that to work, and I don’t think they corrected their website to reflect that until December. I’m still extremely pleased with the result, and it’s an incredible car and one of the first BioPower versions of the MY11 9-5.

Speaking of the works, recently a reader in Radu, Romania e-mailed the SU team. Last week he took delivery of a fully loaded 9-5 2.8T. He wanted to know if he had made a mistake, trusting Saab. I answered “No.” Actually, what I really answered was:

I think the answer to your question depends on yourself. How long do you plan on keeping this car? As someone who grew up with Saabs, of course I am worried about their future. Fear, uncertainty and doubt is at full play. But Saabs have saved both myself and members of my family several times. We would probably be resting underneath the soil had we chosen any different brand. I am willing to take a potential monetary loss on my new 9-5 — it is the least I could do in return!

Money, although an important factor in many of our lives, isn’t everything. You can’t take it with you to the grave. What you can do is pass your spoils on to the next generation. What better treasure, 20 years from now, than a very rare Saab 9-5? (assuming in the unlikliest case that the worst happens) Remember: all art is cheap and uninteresting until the artist buys the farm. And the 9-5 is one heckuva piece of fine art!

With this idea fresh in mind, I asked Anders what to expect from a worst-case scenario. “Why are you worried? You bought your car from us,” he told me. “It is this dealership’s problem to cover your warranty claims regardless of Saab’s fate.” Good to know. It is safe to buy a Saab in Sweden at least, and given the guarantees in the US Saab customers should feel just as comfortable plunking down the cash for a new one.

The hardest question I have ever faced surfaced back in December 2009 as I felt the last opportunity to order a new Saab was quickly deteriorating in front of my eyes. I put everything on blind faith and decided to wait. That new 9-5 was just too delicious to pass up, even if it meant possibly missing out on one of the last 9-3s to be made. In light of that, Radu’s question found me somewhat unprepared. In case Saab disappears tomorrow, make sure you have at least one new Saab in your garage. This is my advice to all of you.

46 thoughts on “Tumbling dice”

  1. Why so defetist, Rune? Saabs seem to have far better resales than it would seem around the world, a well-optioned Saab will lose far less than a comparable BMW or Mercedes because of the sheer price of the options (a Mercedes equipped the way my Saab came STANDARD would have cost TWICE as much with an engine with comparable output, but both will cost the same in two year’s time).

    There is no question the company will survive. Muller has proven the viability of Saab as a business, with good product, internal resilience and eager customers. Even if he is forced to give up Saab, somebody else will pick it up. In days of auto brand death epidemic, Saab has made it through. There is life and viability in Saab, there’s no need to ponder that.

    And with people with a cursory knowledge of the aircraft industry, I would like to share a quip from my mother on reading that “Antonov wants to invest” – “well, at least they stay connected to the aviation family” 🙂

    • I too think the current situation will be resolved.

      My motivation for writing this piece was mainly all those journalists who go on about “consumer confidence” without qualifying their objection. What exactly will happen if Saab disappears from the face of the earth? This is my first attempt at answering that question.

      Saab’s owner cycle is 20 years. 20 years as a division of the airplane manufacturer. 20 years with Scania. 20 years with GM. So VM has 19 years left on the clock.

      The average age of Saabs scrapped in Norway also happens to be a little over 20 years. A great many Saabs bought, have lived to see the mother company change hands during their life time. Yet parts have remained obtainable while skilled mechanics repair our old Saabs with the greatest ease (or some of you do it yourself).

  2. Even the Saab 9000 had autotiltdown of the right hand mirror, when you put the gearlever into reverse. 😉

    The editor of the largest danish motoring magazine, was asked if he believes in Saabs survival. He gives Saab less than 50% chance. I surely hope that he’s proven wrong. He was then asked if he would still buy a Saab. The answer was clear: “Yes, without a doubt!”.


  3. hey ? what happens here ?
    I feel a wind of pessimism. Why ?
    We’ve got someone just here ready to invest 50 M€ and then 300 M€ for the 9-2, and repay the EIB loan !
    Only missing the ok from swedish gvt so that the NDO is ok , so that VA enters
    Is there any responsible people in those organisations ?
    I’m sur there is!
    Waiting for the good news!
    SAAB UP !!!!!!!

    • Well, the gvt has already said yes to the loan from VA.. heres a google translate from TTELA

      “…centrally placed sources within the Debt Office / Government later declared bluntly to TTELA that both the Debt Office and the Government for its part, approved a loan application and that it depended on foreign partners.

      When TTELA talks with Vladimir Antonov Swedish advisor, Lars Carlstrom, and others with insight into the process the evening becomes clearer picture even more.

      – Yes, they have given the green light to Vladimir Antonov can lend money, but he wants to come in as a shareholder. And it’ll continue to negotiate on this issue over the weekend, “said Lars Carlstrom.”

      • This is rather b/s, Saab never had that kind of money in the first place, they wouldn’t have even started if it cost a billion to run the site for a month. I guess they might mean a billion Swedish kronor…

        • Yes they do, and this sounds like a very new thing, but….Have those jornos even read the Spyker figures from just 2 weeks ago?
          They wrote how much they earned, how a big loss they did and so on. Why make this calculation as the DN (Dagens Nyheter) just did? They could easily figure out what they should earn to break even instead of using there own assumptions and make an attractive headline!
          Well, for the same reason all the Bonnier magazines rant on about the Saab story. They just can’t help them selves to come up with “news” by them selves if there isn’t enough other news!

  4. It would be nice to hold onto a “rare piece of art” especially if Saab were to vanish off the face of the earth. But I do hold faith for the company, everytime I doubt, I jump in my 9-3 go for a drive and I remember everything that Saab has achieved in the past year. The progress they’ve made and all the agreements they have signed. Plus the fact that VM JAJ and VA all still have strong belief in the company, and the fact Saab has investors interested to invest, makes me strongly believe that the company has a future. I mean, would an investor really be willing to invest in a company that they didn’t believe would be around in the next 5 years? I don’t think so. Just wait, I think 2012 and 2013 will be real turn around years for Saab. I honestly believe this 🙂

  5. I have more than one Saab. But only old ones 🙂
    93 -58
    96 -61
    95V4 -69
    96V4 -69
    9000CD2.3 -90

    But no newer Saab, I’m sorry to say.

    • Hans,
      With a list like that, you have nothing to be sorry about. Five Saabs in your garage, I bet they all need parts from time to time, you still support the brand and show a definate love for Saab

  6. I ordered already a 9-5 BP Aero SC (fully loaded without adaptive cruise control 😉 and I really, really hope it will be delivered, it a heck of a car and I can’t imagine ordering anything else.

    SAAB up!

  7. I am new on this site. I have driven Saab all my life starting with a V4 in the 60s. I am convinced that Saab deserves to live. I think that Saab lovers should go from commitment to action. We are a small group with the potential to safe Saab. We need to use this potential. I believe we could raise ten million dollars from Saab lovers in no time. This will be sufficient to fuel a social epidemic and boost up the brand worldwide. It will open the gate for many to believe in Saab and this in turn will make the ball roll faster and faster to really pick up momentum. Then everything is possible! Pierre Aniraz

    • Good afternoon Aniraz, and welcome to this site.

      Rather than raise money, I believe it is better we keep buying Saabs and encourage other people to do the same thing.

  8. I talked to my Sales Associate at True Saab this week. They are all hanging on for the 9-4x. He said each of them have waiting lists of SAAB clients that are interested in the vehicle, (myself included). It should be delivered in June is the last official word he received. i say, June cannot come fast enough. Maybe it is time for me to step up to the plate and order now.

    • Well, if you already have made up your mind, then why not? I mean, it will give management one more thing to tell the bank to pove the business is sound. But, regardless of this, if you do order, you will be amongst the first.
      I know, cause I did just that with the TTiD XWD.

    • I agree, the 9-4X cannot arrive soon enough in the US. I firmly believe that the 9-4X will be a sales miracle for Saab . Even as gas prices rise… people here still love the SUV/XUV and the versatility of that style of automobile.

      • My only caution is that it will have to lease aggressively which could be a challenge because it will likely have a low residual in no small part due to the past 2 weeks events and the “uncertainty” about Saab.

        • I agree…. they must make this work… and give some dang good advertising to promote the 9-4X. I’ll gladly drive one around for SAAB like Till72 did, with decals all over it promoting it’s arrival.

          Wife and I are looking at the 9-3X…. The 9-4x is great looking, just bigger than what we need.

          • Reinertsen Motors in Denville, NJ has the 9-4x on their showroom floor today. It’s the same one that will be at the NY Auto Show. They have a nice event today to show it. Dropping my 9-3 off for a spring detail then going to see it. Hopefully some VA money can be used to prop up residuals or lower lease payments below competitors cars just to get new Saabs out the door and on the roads.

          • @ paddan… then we must be “neighbors” since I’m just north of Philly. Reinertsen seems to have a nice inventory… how are they as a dealership?

          • I am also considering either a 9-3X or 9-4X as my next purchase. My Sales Associate says he is hearing that comment from many other SAAB loyalista. I said, “I am not surprised. We all seem to love anything that contains the words, SAAB, Turbo and hatchback.”

            I actually love the US version of the 9-3X SC but would simply like to compare the two in person before making my final decision. I think the Cadillac SRX is a good platform and size for the US market. I am really looking forward to test driving the new SAAB 9-4X. Hopefully we will have that opportunity very soon!

    • Once again http://www.ttela.se gives a better picture of what’s going on than this article. This article also is just repesting the words of the usually very “objective” wording from DI. A site with the same quality of news as the glossy tabloids

      • I agree. However I do like this comment below the article:

        ‘” Saab is much to valuable to go under; its quite unique in the otherwise bland automotive world. Or are we going downhill to a world where there is no more room for individualistic and intelligent designs…? Do you wanna drive in a reliable but oh so very boring Toyota, or some other mindless trendy crappy vehicle that people forget about the instant a new model comes out..

        Everybody remembers the pioneering 99 turbo, the iconic 900 and the superb 9000…, Saab deserves a chance to show the world what great cars it can design and built, it will just take some time, and money.. “”

  9. I am from England and recently took delivery of a new 9-3 sportwagon ttid. My wife and I really love the car and have no regrets in choosing another Saab to replace our 15 year old 900.
    It is a fine car and I cannot understand why the motoring press in my view seem determined to destroy the Saab brand with all their negative comments about the cars.
    Its time the press took responsability for the damage they do to any manufacturers products with their somewhat ‘blinkered’ findings and comments about a car and realise we all buy cars with different needs in mind and have varied thoughts on style and value when we purchase.
    Sometimes i think it better to go and judge a car from your own perspective and individual needs and decide what YOU think is the right car for you and not buy based on their opinions.
    We supported Saab in the best way we could by buyng a new car and hoped to encourage other motorists on the road that we had confidence in the brand and the product.
    Long live Saab.

  10. I posted the following comment on saabnet (below) I would like to add that the internet these days lets
    the car buying public be educated in ways never thought of in the past.. I would like the new 900 with
    BMW motor, Toyota Transmission, Brembo brakes and Hirsch wing please..

    It is difficult. But I know as a consumer I have seem many small manufacturers make a superior product albeit at a higher retail cost to the consumer.
    I still think Saab is in a unique situation where they can build vehicles that use best of bread components from different manufacturers..the end product is a superior vehicle for you and me. I know some consumers would pay more for what they consider to be a superior product. If I were Saab I would start, like Lee Iacoca did, by putting a long warranty on the vehicles and standing behind the design, product and philosophy of Saab.

    • VM have loans, you think that is free?
      * 10% sound high, but do we know anything about it?
      * Do we know what interest he is paying?
      * Do we know when he must pay of his loans used to buy saab?

      Well, I don’t have sufficient information to judge, so I don’t. Why do like the Swedish media and presume it’s all bad?

      Stay tuned and watch instead. I’m sure there must be a cash flow going to the owner. And I am certain that this flow isn’t higher than it need to be. Why risk the hole business by demanding more funds than necessary? I could be all wrong and the Swedish media have done the right conclusion all along, but in my book, the “MullerMan” seems to have taken some risk himself. I give him the cred for this for now, and wait for the story to evolve.

      The saabstoey keeps on giving us the thrill! 😉

    • This looks more freightening than it is.
      I saw the big black headline on the front page of GP paper issue today and was really scared, it said: ‘CEO takes out money of Saab – 60 million in rates to Victor Mullers private company’.
      Inside the paper there is a full spread article on the same theme. They have also made a fairly thorough investigation about Saabs financing, however they do not go all the way to the bottom line. You get the impression that VM puts the 60 million in his own pocket.

      If your memory serves you well you’ll remember that Spyker/VM had to borrow 640 million SEK to buy Saab. I m not sure if it’s been ever officially mentioned which bank he has lend money from (your guess is as good as mine; ) but it really dosen’t matter. If you take a loan you’ll have to pay rent. And that’s what these 60 million are for, it’s a financing cost, not VMs money.

      If you are interested in financing here’s the major financers and their terms:
      GM 1636 million SEK 7.3% rate (starting 2012), not a loan but preference shares
      EIB 1797 million SEK 9.5% rate
      Tenaci/VM 640 million SEK 10% rate
      Epcot 152 million SEK 11.1% rate

  11. happy to go to the RAI and buy an 9-5 estate after I failed to buy a Saab cab automatic as it was to dirty to comply with company rules……
    I see the present situation as a angerous game played by VM and Antonov forcing with the threat of bankruptcy the loan providers and to release securities and to accept A.
    The only risk is that the money providers lose trust and will take their losses now. How ever good it was to get the factory rolling again businessplans with 80 K cars this year are simply not realistic and not being able to get a deal without production disruption is more a game of poker then anything else I think.
    Of course I wish they succeed!
    we can help by buying!

  12. @ 74 StingSaab – I’ve been buying Saabs from Reinertsen Motors for over 30 years and wont go anywhere else. This is a great place with great people from the top on thru the personnel. Very fair, honest and enthusiastic dealer.

    • Good to hear that! I may just have to pay them a visit sometime to snoop around. My local dealer has been nothing but great with me but I always enjoy the new sights of a unknown (to me) showroom.

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